Arjuna is also known by its scientific name (Terminalia Arjuna). A decoction produced that involves its bark has been widely used throughout the Indian subcontinent to combat hypertension, anginal pain, congestive heart failure, and dyslipidaemia. These uses are based on the observations of several ancient physicians since centuries.
Most of the studies, both clinical and experimental, have concluded that the crude drug possesses antioxidant, anti-ischemic, antiatherogenic, and hypolipidemic properties. Moreover, when it comes to Arjuna’s phytoconstituents, the primary ones include flavonoids, Triterpenoids, glycosides, and β-sitosterol. Both Triterpenoids and flavonoids are believed to be responsible for Arjuna’s efficacious antioxidant cardiovascular properties.
Arjuna has demonstrated promising effects when it comes to ischemic cardiomyopathy, with no occurrence of any serious side-effects. That said, its long-term safety still needs to be elucidated. Though constituents of the tree are found to be extremely useful in mild hypertension, angina pectoris, and dyslipidaemia, its precise role in the prevention of primary/secondary coronary disease is yet to be successfully explored.
The bark of the Arjuna has been viewed as an astringent, expectorant, demulcent, anti-dysenteric, cardiotonic, styptic, and urinary astringent. It is known to be helpful when it comes to ulcers, fractures, diabetes, leukorrhea, cirrhosis, anaemia and cardiopathy.
Chakradatta, one of the greatest ancient physicians, recommended a decoction prepared from the bark of the tree and milk. Decoctions comprising the bark have been widely used as an ulcer wash, whereas bark ashes have been traditionally prescribed for lethal snakebites and scorpion stings.
Traditional healers from the district of Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu boil the bark powder along with water, and then inhale the fumes to cure headaches and kill worms in the teeth. They also make use of the fruit paste as a topical agent for curing wounds.
Fresh juice derived from the tree’s leaves is used to treat earaches, while the bark powder is used to treat heart ailments, especially by the Malabar tribe in Kerala. Tribals who live in the Sundargarh district of Orissa use dried powder obtained from the bark along with rice-washed water to treat the occurrence of blood in the urine. Moreover, tribes living in the Malkangiri district chew the fresh bark of the Arjuna and swallow the juice just as an antacid.
The bark of Arjuna possesses useful diuretic, inotropic, and chronotropic properties.
When it comes to Langendorff’s rabbit heart preparation, the aqueous extract has proven to cause an increase in coronary flow.
Substantiating the previous findings, a recent experimental study demonstrated that the aqueous extract of the tree increased the contraction force of the cardiac muscle in a frog’s heart in situ, hypodynamic frog’s heart in situ, and isolated perfused rabbit heart.
Aqueous as well as alcoholic bark extract, when administered intravenously, intravertebrally, and intracerebrally in dogs, resulted in decreased dose dependence for high blood pressure.
Dried and pulverised bark has been proven to increase endogenous antioxidant compounds in a rat’s heart and prevent oxidative stress that is associated with ischemic-reperfusion injury to the heart. Moreover, the bark extract has also demonstrated protective effects against doxorubicin-induced damage to the DNA as well as cardiotoxicity.
Kumar et al. successfully demonstrated that Arjuna protects the heart from myocardial changes that are induced by chronic stimulation of the β-adrenoceptor.
Prior animal experiments had demonstrated that the bark powder or extract of Arjuna reduced total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.
A study suggests that monotherapy involving Arjuna is quite effective in those with stable angina but has a limited role in unstable angina.
In a recent study, Arjuna is also proven to improve cardiovascular endurance and lower systolic blood pressure (SBP) in normal, healthy individuals.
According to the findings of a study, administration of Arjuna showed a significant improvement in left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), duration of exercise, and considerable reduction in the size of the heart.
The eternal interest when it comes to medicinal plants has led to the discovery of new pharmacological actions and chemical constituents of Arjuna. Its high efficacy as a potent antioxidant, anti-ischemic agent, and antiatherogenic agent has been amply proven in several experimental studies and clinical trials.